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Album Review: Sarah Jezebel Deva – The Corruption Of Mercy

Photo: Sammy Bruce

It’s interesting to look back at Sarah Jezebel Deva’s back catalogue and realise that, prior to the release of Angtoria’s album, she had never been a front woman. The name rings quite a few bells, particularly on the UK metal scene as she stands as one of the most notable female vocalists, so it was about time she stepped from the shadows of the backing microphone and took center stage.

A minor blip occurred as the debut album from her solo project, ‘A Sign of Sublime’ fell victim to almost every case of misfortune, but instead of falling to defeat, the sophomore album ‘The Corruption Of Mercy’ rose in a phoenix-like ascent to prove the talent and skill that the front woman and her band possess.
Described by the record label as ‘symphonic’ and ‘dark’, it’s impossible to find two words that sum up the album any better. The bombastic compositions are teamed with intense blast beats that ensure the metal aspects are not overlooked – exemplified perfectly in the opening track ‘No Paragon Of Virtue’ and the lead single ‘The World Won’t Hold Your Hand’.

The latter stands out as a highlight from the album – a strong chorus and one of the most instant tracks that does not compromise it’s heaviness. It is, along with ‘Pretty With Effects’, ‘The Corruption of Mercy’ and ‘A Matter of Convenience’, a prime example of the songwriting skills that Deva possesses, particularly within her lyrics. Through both metaphorical and literal accounts, she manages to convey relatable issues and, particularly on ‘A Matter Of Convenience’, refuses to mince her words as she states that she ‘needs more whiskey’ to get her through an intimate encounter.

Some of the most intense performances on the album don’t come from the all-guns-blazing approach, but from the stripped down track ‘Pretty With Effects’ when Sarah’s emotion and conviction carries the song onto a new level and similarly, in the title track, the vocal performance elevates it and evolves it into something special.

Sarah also seems to have carved a niche for herself in the business of covering classic songs and giving them a metal makeover. This is continued on the album as she turns her attention to The Cranberries’ classic ‘Zombie’ and the result is magnificent. A little heavier, it suits her voice to perfection and fits among the rest of the tracks nicely, musically sounding slightly reminiscent of Katatonia and Madder Mortem with it’s distorted chugging and hints of doom metal.

There is no lack of passion in any of the songs on offer and that in itself is commendable, but the greatest thing about ‘The Corruption of Mercy’ is the complexity of the sonic arrangements. It isn’t something that can be absorbed entirely in one listen and the sign of a great album is surely one that draws you back and appeals in different ways with repeated listens.

Photo: Sammy Bruce
Words: Simon McMurdo

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